1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Dwarfed by the cruelly misnamed “Friendship Bridge”,  a man holding his meagre belongings crosses illegally into Thailand in the shadow of people crossing the bridge legally in the background. Thai officials often turn a blind eye to such illegal crossings  to allow corrupt cross-border trade between the two countries to thrive. 2005

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Transported by inflated inner tubes of truck tyres, Burmese and ethnic minorities glide across the swollen Moei River from Myawaddy to Mae Sai. At times during the rainy season the current is so powerful they are swept down the river. 2006

 

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

This young woman built her dwelling against the massive pillar of the Friendship Bridge. Her vulnerability was palpable, and my mind ran fast with what it would be like to live in such desperate and raw circumstances with a child to look after and protect. 2006

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

This marble-and-stone sign with its proud but misspelled declaration stands in monolithic contrast to the flimsy, broken lives of the people who struggle to survive on the border. Despite its air of permanence, the sign was recently torn down. 2005

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

 Whisky! Smoke! the vendors cry in a desperate sales pitch as they thrust out their wares. The fake versions of the big-name originals  are produced in Burma and sold to Thais along the border. Mae Sot, 2005

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Young girls wait on The Friendship Bridge in Mae Sot for work as porters. 2004.

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

A woman carrying her child makes her way from the Burmese quarter of Mae Sot to the Thai quarter. The wall on the left faces Burma and the wall on the right faces Thailand. To me, the thoroughfare between symbolizes the pitifully narrow opportunities that refugees have to find their way to a new and better world. 2003

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

The rain began to fall heavily on no mans land a spit of land between Burma and Thailand that is home to Burmese refugees in a artful act of improvisation that can only come from someone who has as little as this young boy does dons an empty rice bag using it as a raincoat and sheltered from the rain. Mae Sot, 2001

 

 

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

This girl lives with her family on the banks of the Moei River. Her father is a fisherman who sells his catch in the local market. Like the majority of border children, she was severely malnourished. Mae Sot, 2001

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Rice husks rain from the sky during the rice harvest in Thai fields. The harvest is brought in by almost exclusively Burmese labor. 2006

 

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

One o the Burmese workers pointed across the mirage of  baked earth, sweltering rice fields and rising heat and told me he wished he was working in a field over there. He explained  that Thai farmer who owns the field pays his workers $US4 a day, while he only receives $US3. 2007

 

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

In the early hours of the morning, migrants are packed into the back of pick-up trucks and transported to work. They work in factories, fields and construction sites, and as sex workers. They earn less than US$2 a day, a fraction of the wages of their Thai counterparts. I often had impassioned “debates” with NGO workers along the Thai/Burma border, who claimed that it was better for such migrants to be exploited and abused by Thai employers than to remain inside Burma. Such an argument is a cheap rationalization for basic human rights violations that should not be tolerated in any circumstances. 2007

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Charismatic Abbot of Golden Horse Monastery Abbot Kru Ba Nua Chai rides along the Thai-Burmese border with two of his novice monks. The boys are from Burma and have lost their parents to the Burmese Junta. 2006

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Novice monks. A few seconds before they were doing backflips off the back of their horses. Then, exhausted, they just laid there quietly. Golden Horse Monastery on the Thai-Burmese border. 2006

 

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Novice monk in quite reflection. Golden Horse Monastery on the Thai-Burmese border. 2006

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

At Golden Horse monastery, a strict regime that begins at 4 am includes meditation, agricultural practice, martial arts, horsemanship, and English. 2006

 

 1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Padong women shopping at their local store in the village of Nai Soi. 2004

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

View from Wang Thong Hotel in Mai Sai, Thailand to Tachileik, Burma. You can almost reach out with your hand and touch Burma from the balcony. The view is framed, peaceful and almost beautiful, yet this narrow and unremarkable strand of river represents such a strong division between policing on opposite sides of the border. 2002

 

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

This former Burmese government soldier volunteered that he was injured in a battle between the Karen and Burmese as he caught me surveying the horrific injuries to his face. Then he turned away, pulled the throttle back on his bike and disappeared across the bridge back into Burma. 2005

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Transporting Ya Ba (Meth Amphetamine) across the border. Mae Sai, 2002

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

A Karen refugee is cremated in the mountains above Mae Hong Son. The Karen are the largest ethnic minority group inside Burma, thought to number around three million. They are followed by the Shan who number approximately two and half million. 2001

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Illiterate and unable to sign their names, migrant workers place their thumbprints in a book as they cross into Thailand to work each day near the town of Mai Sai. 2002

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Illegally crossing the Moei River from Burma, these migrant workers represent cheap labour to the Thai economy worth millions of dollars a year. They work in appalling conditions with no job security or legal protection. 2007

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Sleeping on a street corner early in the evening, this young girl was so exhausted after scrounging for rubbish all day that she was totally oblivious to the cacophony of sound from passing traffic and people. Thousands of displaced Burmese children are exploited and oppressed by unscrupulous businessmen, corrupt officials and human traffickers. Mae Sot, 2004

 

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

The motionless baby was running an extremely high temperature. Her brother rolled from side to side quietly whimpering with pain. Both were in the grip of malaria. Mae Sot, 2005

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

The clinic was overcrowded with sick, wounded and dying people. This double amputee landmine victim had dragged  herself into a medics changing  room and fallen asleep. She later told me she was fossicking for food in the jungle when the mine exploded. Mae Sot, 2002

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

This 14-year-old landmine victim has his gangrene-infected leg amputated with a blunt saw and a local anesthetic. He winched at times during the operation but he did not scream. Mae Sot, 2005

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

The smell of the rotten flesh was putrefying. The operating theatre was about nine feet long and six feet wide. Flies buzzed around in the 120-degree heat. The staff swam in sweat but they worked in silence to end the operation as fast as possible. Mae Sot, 2005

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

His name is Panyuk. Both his arms were blown off and his eyes blinded by the explosion of a Burmese landmine. His injuries are horrific. He now spends his time singing songs and telling stories about traditional Karen culture. Ma La Refugee Camp, 2004

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Orphanage for Muslim boys in Mae Sot. When I took this photo, I tried to understand the void that must exist in a child’s life when they lose both parents and are exiled in a foreign country, but I realized it was beyond my comprehension. Mae Sot, 2002

 

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

A Burmese sex worker prepares to meet a client. She will earn US$5 for the session and keep US$3 after she gives a percentage to her Thai pimps. She says that she sends most of her earnings back to her mother and child inside Burma. 2004

 

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Too young to go to war.  The KNU have been in armed resistance against the Burmese junta for nearly fifty years. Ouside Mae Sot, 2006

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Tension sucks up all the air as Thai Police and the Thai Army search a bus en route from Mae Sai to Chaing Rai, a major artery for drug couriers and illegal immigrants heading south. 2006

 

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Personal privacy goes unrespected as Thai Police and the Thai Army search a bus en route from Mae Sai to Chaing Rai, a major artery for drug couriers and illegal immigrants heading south. 2006

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

A poverty-stricken hill tribe women arrested for drug smuggling in  northern Thailand. Acting as a ‘mule’ for drug barons inside Burma, she is a pawn and will take the fall in place of those who hired her. She will spend years in the harsh conditions of Thai prison. 2006

 

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

The tension is papable as Thai Police and the Thai Army search a suspected drug mule at a check point en route from Mae Sai to Chaing Rai, a major artery for drug couriers and illegal immigrants heading south. 2006

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Sex workers ( in the background) solicit in the port town of Ranong. The rate of HIV among sex workers in Ranong is said to be as high as 55%.  2006

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

A young Burmese illegal immigrant en route from Burma to the Thai port town of Ranong. 2003

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Not allowed to cross the Yuam River into Thailand; Burmese refugees carve a home  (literally) out of the jungle on the Burmese side (just) of the border. Mae Sariang, 2007.

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
 1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border
1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Dwarfed by the cruelly misnamed “Friendship Bridge”,  a man holding his meagre belongings crosses illegally into Thailand in the shadow of people crossing the bridge legally in the background. Thai officials often turn a blind eye to such illegal crossings  to allow corrupt cross-border trade between the two countries to thrive. 2005

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Transported by inflated inner tubes of truck tyres, Burmese and ethnic minorities glide across the swollen Moei River from Myawaddy to Mae Sai. At times during the rainy season the current is so powerful they are swept down the river. 2006

 

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

This young woman built her dwelling against the massive pillar of the Friendship Bridge. Her vulnerability was palpable, and my mind ran fast with what it would be like to live in such desperate and raw circumstances with a child to look after and protect. 2006

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

This marble-and-stone sign with its proud but misspelled declaration stands in monolithic contrast to the flimsy, broken lives of the people who struggle to survive on the border. Despite its air of permanence, the sign was recently torn down. 2005

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

 Whisky! Smoke! the vendors cry in a desperate sales pitch as they thrust out their wares. The fake versions of the big-name originals  are produced in Burma and sold to Thais along the border. Mae Sot, 2005

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Young girls wait on The Friendship Bridge in Mae Sot for work as porters. 2004.

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

A woman carrying her child makes her way from the Burmese quarter of Mae Sot to the Thai quarter. The wall on the left faces Burma and the wall on the right faces Thailand. To me, the thoroughfare between symbolizes the pitifully narrow opportunities that refugees have to find their way to a new and better world. 2003

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

The rain began to fall heavily on no mans land a spit of land between Burma and Thailand that is home to Burmese refugees in a artful act of improvisation that can only come from someone who has as little as this young boy does dons an empty rice bag using it as a raincoat and sheltered from the rain. Mae Sot, 2001

 

 

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

This girl lives with her family on the banks of the Moei River. Her father is a fisherman who sells his catch in the local market. Like the majority of border children, she was severely malnourished. Mae Sot, 2001

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Rice husks rain from the sky during the rice harvest in Thai fields. The harvest is brought in by almost exclusively Burmese labor. 2006

 

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

One o the Burmese workers pointed across the mirage of  baked earth, sweltering rice fields and rising heat and told me he wished he was working in a field over there. He explained  that Thai farmer who owns the field pays his workers $US4 a day, while he only receives $US3. 2007

 

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

In the early hours of the morning, migrants are packed into the back of pick-up trucks and transported to work. They work in factories, fields and construction sites, and as sex workers. They earn less than US$2 a day, a fraction of the wages of their Thai counterparts. I often had impassioned “debates” with NGO workers along the Thai/Burma border, who claimed that it was better for such migrants to be exploited and abused by Thai employers than to remain inside Burma. Such an argument is a cheap rationalization for basic human rights violations that should not be tolerated in any circumstances. 2007

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Charismatic Abbot of Golden Horse Monastery Abbot Kru Ba Nua Chai rides along the Thai-Burmese border with two of his novice monks. The boys are from Burma and have lost their parents to the Burmese Junta. 2006

1200 Miles | Life And Death On The Thai Burma Border

Novice monks. A few seconds before they were doing backflips off the back of their horses. Then, exhausted, they just laid there quietly.